Harold Eugene Lickey

1924 - 2015

Harold Lickey played a prominent role in choral music in Adventist higher education and in the debate on appropriate music in life and worship in the Adventist church. He was on the music faculty at four Adventist colleges and at Andrews University, where he also held the Oliver S. Beltz Chair of Sacred Music at the SDA Theological Seminary before he retired.

Harold was born in Colorado, on July 9, 1942, the youngest of three sons of Arthur Edwin and Oda J.Truitt Lickey. Because his father was a Seventh-day Adventist minister, the family moved frequently during his childhood. When he was ten, his mother died, and his father married Gladys Davis when he was fourteen. Music was an important activity in the home and Harold would often join with his father and brothers in singing.

He graduated from Enterprise Academy in Kansas in 1941 and attended Union College for a year. He then served in the U.S. Airforce as an ensign for two years, marrying Vida Esther Pogue on September 18, 1945, the year the war ended. They would have three children, John, Preston, and Robin Jean.

Harold returned to UC in 1947, where he completed a B.A. in religion in 1950. He also took music classes and was active in music ensembles, singing in the college choirs and the Ambassadors Quartet, and teaching voice lessons as an assistant instructor. In his senior year he was selected for inclusion in Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities.

Following a year at Enterprise Academy in Kansas as choir director and voice teacher, Lickey became a member of the quartet on the television program Faith for Today, joining Herbert Hohensee and Lyle Jewell. All three had been colleagues at Union College, members of a quartet at UC, and had taken classes at Westminster Choir College. While at FFT he worked with Melvin West, organist for the program, whom he had known earlier.

After leaving the program in 1954, Lickey taught at Union College for two years and then at Southwestern Junior College for four years before accepting a position at Pacific Union College in 1960. In 1965 he became director of the choral and vocal program at Walla Walla College, now University, where he served for a record fourteen years in that position.

While teaching at SWJC, he had completed an M.Mus. in 1958. He continued graduate study at the University of Southern California and Stanford University while at PUC. He completed a D.Mus. at Indiana University in 1970.

Lickey was the first Adventist musician to articulate a stance against rock music, writing four articles that were published in the church's primary magazine, The Review and Herald, in late 1971 and early 1972. He subsequently wrote additional articles and conducted seminars on rock music and the subject of appropriate music for worship services. He also worked on the committee that produced the 1985 church hymnal, serving as chairman of the Texts Subcommittee.

During his career in Adventist higher education he established a reputation as a fine tenor soloist and a dynamic choir director. While at WWC, he worked closely with West in performing landmark works in choral literature. West would later observe that working with Lickey in the presentation of music such as the Brahms and Durufle Requiems, Creston's Prophecy of Isaiah, and the Poulenc Gloria was a highpoint of his experience at WWC. In addition to heading the vocal/choral program at WWC, Lickey also served as chair from 1974 to 1979.

He left in 1979 to accept a position at Andrews University, where he taught until he and his wife retired to the Portland, Oregon, area in 1986. Vida died in 2009 at age 84. In retirement, Lickey was active in music activities in the Portland area. He also participated in concerts, seminars, and hymn festivals, the latter with West, who also resided in the area. He was living in Milwaukie, Oregon, at the time of his death on June 1, 2015, at age 90.


Sources: Information on file in the music department at Walla Walla University; conversations with Harold Lickey, 19, 20 November 1978, letter to me, 19 November 1991; Interview with Melvin West, 4 January 1991 (work with Lickey at WWC);Central Union Reaper, 11 September 1951, 2,3 (FFT Quartet); 1930 U.S. Federal Census; U.S. Social Security Death Index; personal knowledge.